Thursday, 30 April 2009

The End Is Nigh!

Poor old Gordon Brown. He must be wondering today if even his wife and kids love him.

What a week for him! His Chancellor was caught out lying about the speed of economic recovery, less than two days after his Budget. To keep face with his party, he had to do a temporary U turn on MPs second homes, and now, probably the worst moment of his career, the one that even the political commentators didn't see coming, he has suffered his first defeat in a Commons vote.

When Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg called for a motion to offer all Gurkhas equal right of residence in the UK, the Government were expected to win, if only by the skin of their teeth. But lose they did, the motion being carried by 267 votes to 246, with 27 labour rebel backbenchers voting in favour of it, even though Mr Brown tried to do a deal with them. This in effect means that Mr Brown was defeated by his own party!

This was the first time that a government had lost an opposition day debate since Jim Callaghan in January 1978, and fourteen months later he was forced to call an election.

Mr Clegg must have been feeling smug, it was the Lib Dems biggest Commons victory in their twenty one year history.

As soon as the result was announced there were shouts of “resign!”. Perhaps this should have been offered as a motion as well!

This was one battle the Gurkhas weren’t expecting to win, but in the end, justice prevailed.
It’s not cut and dried yet but I’m sure it wouldn’t be presumptious to open the champagne bottle.

Even if Mr Brown reneges on this one, the Gurkhas have kick started the beginning of the end of New Labour, and I for one salute them for that!

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Read All About It

English literature GCSE is not being taken by almost one in four teenage pupils, according to figures published by the Conservative Party.

Why would that be, are they too idle to read, or is it the fact that they cannot read?

Conservative schools spokesman, Michael Gove said, "An understanding and knowledge of English literature is something we would all consider an essential part of education to GCSE level for all pupils. It is therefore shocking that the subject is in decline to the extent that more than one in four pupils does not even sit it at GCSE."

The Government's Schools Minister, Jim Knight countered with, "Michael Gove is talking nonsense. Both the English and English literature GCSEs include Shakespeare and other great works of English literature so it's wrong to say that pupils are not reading the classics.
Last year 96% of pupils sat an exam that included English literature and more young people are achieving the higher grades in English each year."

What Mr Gove is saying is, that pupils should read and understand the complete book, what Mr Knight is saying is, that they just read extracts from the book, and that’s just fine by him!

Which of these right honourable gentlemen would you prefer to oversee your child’s education? You decide!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Gurkha Justice Rally

It’s Gordon Browns lucky day today. I’m letting him off the hook on his U turn on scrapping MPs second home allowance. They can carry on renting their tacky DVDs and installing their £10,000 kitchens at our expense, for the time being.

Today I’m going to be serious.

When I opened my emails this morning there was one from Miss Joanna Lumley.

She has informed me that Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, has agreed to put a vote to Parliament tomorrow, Wednesday 29th April, calling for a fair deal for Gurkhas. This alone won’t change last weeks ruling but it will show the Government that they need to have a re-think.

To coincide with this vote tomorrow, there is to be a Gurkha Justice rally and protest against the Government's decision, starting at noon in Old Palace Yard, Westminster. Joanna has apologised for the short notice and asked that anyone reading this, and has the time tomorrow, to join her there to show your support.

As a final note, Joanna spoke yesterday to Lieutenant Madan Kumar Gurung, who has been at the forefront of the campaign since it began. He told her that he has no fear for the Gurkhas any more, as he knows the loving hearts of the British people will not let them down.

Prove him right, be there tomorrow!

Monday, 27 April 2009

We Know What You’re Doing!

There is a dearth of news in the UK today, I mean news that I find a tad incongruous, so come with me to Switzerland.

This must be the ultimate case of big brother or is that grand frère or perhaps even große bruder is watching you.

It appears that a Swiss woman was sacked from her job at Nationale Suisse after claiming that she couldn’t use a computer, and had to lie in a darkened room because she was suffering from a migraine. Whilst she was at home, suffering, the company noticed that she was using Facebook. This apparently destroyed their faith in her, so they had no alternative but to sack her.

How did they notice?

Well the lady claims that the company had created a Facebook account using a fictitious name, then the lady, for some reason only known to herself, became ‘friends’ with Mr, or was it Miss X. The company was then able to track her Facebook activities.

After she was fired, the ‘friend’ disappeared from her Facebook. Some friend that was!

So take that as a warning. The next time you shop on-line for a plasma screen TV, make sure that it’s not bigger than your gaffer’s, he may just think that he is overpaying you!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

What's in a Name?

It’s Tory Spring Conference time down in sleepy Cheltenham. The Conservative education spokesman, Michael Gove, has come up with a cunning plan, he wants to create primary academies.

I think that what he means is, he wants primary schools to become autonomous by taken them away from council control and letting them set their own curriculum and hours of attendance.

It’s not for me to say whether this is a good or a bad thing, what I’m objecting to is the way politicians are hijacking the language to suit their own means. If there is an obscure meaning to a word settled right at the bottom of an entry in the OED you can bet your life that they will use it for their own ends.

I mean, academy, that’s never a primary school. An academy is a seat of higher learning, a place where they read Plato and Socrates, not 'Jane and John' first reader books! Academia is a university or a group of students from a university, not a collection of Portakabins on a council estate. An academic is a researcher or even a professor at a university, not Miss Smith who teaches finger painting.

A failing secondary school in my area was re-branded an academy a couple of years ago. It’s still a failing secondary school!

A newly built secondary school in my area is called So and So Campus (the name has been changed to protect the innocent). Campus sounds as cool as academy, but did the person who christened it know that a campus is the word for the grounds and buildings of a university, and not a level of education?

So get wise all of you politicians, Shakespeare’s Juliet was lying when she said, “What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Saturday, 25 April 2009

The Forgotten Army

Is the British Government deliberately courting controversy? Do they know that they have lost the next election, even though it is months before the nomination papers are submitted?

Yesterday they were proved to be inept, or should that be lying, with their calculations on the speed of the economic recovery, and then another bombshell!

They let down, snubbed, call it what you will, the Gurkhas, or to be precise, the entire British armed forces.

The message that the Home Office sent out was, ‘Thanks for serving the Country pal, but now that you have been demobbed, you’re on your own.’

How can a person, for all intents and purposes, be treated as if he were British for fifteen years, and then overnight, as soon as he has been served his demob papers, become an alien?

The Government’s argument is that, if we let the ex-Gurkhas stay in the country, by the time they are joined here by their families, Britain’s population will swell by 100,000.

So what? If the Gurkhas weren’t available to fight for us in the Pacific in WWII, leaving the Allied troops to concentrate on Europe, our population may well have swelled by 82,000,000, all of them German.

The Government’s cop out is that a Gurkha who was demobbed before 1997 can stay if he can meet one of the following criteria:

  • Three years continuous residence in the UK during or after service
  • Close family in the UK
  • A bravery award of level one to three
  • Service of 20 years or more in the Gurkha brigade
  • Chronic or long-term medical condition caused or aggravated by service

This really means, if you are a Gurkha officer, you are more than welcome to stay, if you are one of the other ranks, tough!

As the plaque on the Gurkha Memorial says:


Bravest of the brave,
most generous of the generous,
never had country
more faithful friends
than you.

Perhaps there should have been a final line that reads, “But only when it suits us”?

On behalf of British people everywhere, I apologise to the entire Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal for the treachery of the Government of Great Britain.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Make This A Land Fit For Real Heroes!

Today, Gurkhas and ex-Gurkhas who retired before 1997, those Nepalese soldiers that are everything a super-hero should be, courageous, brave, loyal and law abiding, will find out if the Government are going to grant them the right to settle in the UK.

How much discussion and paper shuffling in Whitehall did it need to come to a decision? This was a no-brainer, surely. Even the High Court told the Home Secretary in September last year that the immigration laws denying them the right to settle were unlawful.

This regiment has fought for Kings and Queens and Country for nearly two hundred years. 45,000 of them have died over those years. They have picked up every bravery award going, from the Victoria Cross, down.

Even though the British Government has defecated on them from a great height, not only by denying the right to settle in the UK, but by awarding them less than half of a British regular army soldier’s pension when they retire, back in Nepal they are still clamouring to join this noble regiment.

How do they feel when they see the Government welcome immigrants, from countries that these men have fought and died against, with open arms, people that have contributed absolutely nothing to this country, people that are only here to take advantage of our lax benefits system, when the Gurkhas are denied the same right.

Jaqui Smith, take a leaf out of the Gurkhas book and be loyal too.

All they asking for is your signature on that piece of paper!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Labour Party, I Think It’s Time To Budget!

Happy St George’s Day everyone. Well the lily livered, spineless Chancellor let us down big time.

This Budget was supposed to have led us out of recession, instead of that he tried to retain the few Labour voters left in the country.

He lied about the speed of economic recovery, he predicted that the economy would shrink by 3.5% this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it will shrink by 4.1%. He said that the economy will grow by 1.25% next year, the IMF says it will shrink a further 0.4%. This leads to an all time record borrowing of, wait for it, £175 billion.

To salve the Labour faithful, he hammered the higher earner, gave the pensioners a few coppers more and increased child credit. In a populist move, he only increased alcohol and tobacco by the usual pennies.

The most ludicrous thing to come out of this budget is the grand opening of ‘Honest Al’s Car Sales’ where Al will give you £2000 for your old banger, (no sir, he didn’t mean your wife), against a new car.
Hang on a minute, I’ll give Al a call.

Me: “Hello, is that Al’s”

Al: “Yes sir, how may I help you?”

Me: “I hear that you will give me £2000 trade in against my old car, if I buy a new one.”

Al: “ Mmm, well that’s not strictly true sir. I will give you £1000 towards it and the poor motor company, you know, the one that’s sinking faster than the ‘Titanic’, the one that’s already slashed it’s prices to the bone, will give you the other £1000. You can pay the balance with your redundancy pay and Job Seekers Allowance. We are also doing a special offer, 2p ON a litre of fuel.”

Me: "I'll get back to you on that one, NOT!"

Gordon, I think it’s time you traded Alistair in!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Buddy Can You Spare a Grand?

Two stories grabbed my attention on this bright and sunny Budget Day, ‘UK suffers first signs of deflation’ and ‘Royal Mint privatisation closer’.

This is the stuff that makes the train of thought pull out of the station.

What if the deflation gathers apace and turns into hyper-deflation? Will we need coins, ergo, will we need a Royal Mint or are they going to mint £50 and £100 pound coins? Will £1 buy you 5 Euro cents?

The old man shaking his tin cup in the High Street may well be asking, “Spare a £1000 for a cuppa, guv!”

Turning back to deflation, the last time the UK was in this state was way back in 1960.

I guess that most working people now, wouldn’t remember those heady days, so to give an idea of the distance in time, Harold Macmillan was the UK Prime Minister, JFK was going through his election campaign in the US, nobody had ever heard of the ‘Beatles’, the whole country was waiting with bated breath to see the first ever episode of ‘Coronation Street’, which was transmitted in the December of that year, and yours truly was in the last year of his teens!

We survived that recession so I suppose we will manage to come out of this one alive.

Today’s Budget should prove to be the most interesting one in history.

If darling Alistair doesn’t give us some bad tasting medicine to get us through this, if instead he chases the populist vote with a few mamby pamby cuts here and meaningless concessions there, I think the best thing that Mr Brown can do for his Queen and Country is to give him a revolver and tell him to do the honourable thing!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Will Twenty Be The New Thirty?

After my Easter break, what do I come back to? I‘ll tell you what. Headlines that say “Plans to cut traffic speed limits.”

The Government want to introduce reductions in the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph in urban locations.

I’m no boy racer but isn’t this a bit OTT. Are they questioning our braking reactions? Do they think that our disc brakes aren’t capable of bringing us to a halt in a matter of inches at 30mph?

In this age of environmental awareness they want us to drive around in third gear, burning fuel like it was water and emitting all kinds of nasties into the atmosphere.

Why not enforce the 30mph law by taking the offenders license away for two or three months. That would be more effective than sticking up a sign post saying 20mph!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Jade Goody-bye

I’ve seen everything now. Yesterday, the Sky News channel devoted at least seven hours covering the funeral of Jade Goody.

I’ve never had much time for publicist Max Clifford, but anybody that can engineer a stunt like that for a commoner, has got to be a hero!

Natasha Richardson, a true international celebrity with internationally famous grandparents, parents, siblings, husband, uncles, aunts and cousins, died four days before Jade and we never learned of her funeral until the day after it took place. Max obviously wasn’t on the case!

I dare say Sky’s coverage took up more air time than Princess Di’s or the Queen Mum’s did.

Thousands lined the route, throwing what was possibly the entire stock of flowers from New Covent Garden at the hearse.

I spotted one wreath on the hearse that dipped its O Level English, ‘Gran Daughter’ . There were floral tributes with Jade’s comical sayings such as ‘East Angula’ and ‘Minging’, I must have missed the one that said ‘Shilpa Poppadum’, and one depicting a jar of ‘Marmite’, because like the yeast extract, ‘you either liked her or hated her’.

With Jade gone, which non-celebrity are we going to like or hate now?

Goodbye Jade, rest in peace. It’s been fun writing about you.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Starvation and the Nation

Some hard-up families are facing the prospect of malnutrition due to the recession and soaring food prices, the charity ‘Save the Children’ has warned.

I beg to differ. This has more to do with other factors than with the recession.

Successive governments have moved the UK away from being an agricultural nation into being a (failed) industrial nation. Cheap fruit and vegetables are now, and forever will be, a thing of the past.

The UK is a consumer society that, must have a 42 inch plasma TV hanging on the wall, must have two weeks a year in Orlando, Florida, must have a state of the art mobile phone, must have a brand new leather three piece suite. How are you going to manage to buy food after you have paid for all of these essentials?

TV Cookery Programmes.
If you can’t afford plain food like filet steak with white truffle sauce and potatoes boulangere washed down with a nice bottle of Chateau Neuf du Pape how are you going to stop yourself from falling through your ribs?

TV Gardening Programmes.
You must have well manicured lawns in both your front and back gardens and what’s the use of patio doors without a patio? God forbid that you should ever dig these up and plant cabbages and potatoes. You’d rather starve to death than lower the tone of the neighbourhood!

Lack of Inventiveness.
Ready meals, take-aways and frozen chips have contributed to robbing modern woman of her creativity, but the main culprit is the discontinuation of domestic science classes in schools for the last couple of generations.

My wife can skin and gut a rabbit and fillet fish with the best of ’em. She can turn the cheapest cut of meal and a couple of vegetables into a gourmet meal. Without learning these skills, the nuclear family have no chance.

Both my wife and myself were born and raised during WWII and we came out the other side fit and healthy even though food then was really scarce.

So why doesn’t today’s government try to promote these ideals today by re-issuing posters like ‘Dig on for Victory’ and pamphlets like the old Ministry of Food’s ‘How to Plan Meals for Children’?
They could even rake out some of the old public service films of the time and show them on TV. Perhaps then the end of the world won't be so nigh!

Lead by example, I say.

Friday, 3 April 2009

The world's greatest whip-round.

Leaders of the world's largest economies (and Britain) have agreed to tackle the global financial crisis with measures worth $1.1 trillion.

If you write this figure down in numerals it looks more like binary code than a number.

Mr Brown and his Chancellor, Mr Darling have thrown so much money at the banks and other financial institutions recently I’ve calculated that Britain can only afford to chip in to this fund with something around a fiver!

Gordon, mate, as a country, we’re on the edge of bankruptcy ourselves, so don’t go making anymore rash promises, there’s a good boy!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Climbing the G20 Summit

Tomorrow, Wednesday April 2nd is the big day, the start of the G20 summit in London. World leaders are meeting to discuss plans to tackle the economic crisis.

The Metropolitan Police reckon that the security alone will cost £7.5m. Add this to all the other costs, ferrying in the delegates from all over the globe, feeding, watering and entertaining them, it’s going to cost more than a pretty penny, more like a penny with looks to die for.

With homes and businesses boarded up, it doesn’t look like the local economy is going to make a brass farthing out of this exercise.

This is the technological 21st century, so wouldn’t it have been easier, cheaper and safer for all concerned to sit back in their favourite armchair, in the warmth of their own homes and do the whole thing by video conference?